Saturday, November 26, 2011

Stories Recently Read

I shudder when I have to read anything longer than a short blog post or news story on a computer screen. Laptop, desktop, doesn't matter - I hate the glare, the wide screen, the inflexibility of it. Great to surf, a pain (for me at least) to use as an e-reader.

Kindle changed all that. I now send documents to my handheld and read family newsletters, Christmas greetings (yes, those long family updates), articles, short stories and more (oh, and uh, books) on my e-reader. For longer blog posts and free short stories posted online I'll even copy and paste them into a word doc and, as mentioned, email them to my Kindle. It's pretty slick.

So I'd saved a bunch of short stories on my Kindle to read "later." With time in short supply, later never happened. But round trip flights for Thanksgiving provided the right opportunity to catch up on my penchant for short fiction. Here's a quick take on some of what I read.

Two Poker Boy stories ('The War of Poker' and 'Just Shoot Me Now') by Dean Wesley Smith. The series is fun and fanciful, and features Poker Boy, a superhero in the gambling universe who answers to Stan, the God of Poker, as well as Lady Luck herself. With the help of a colorful cast of characters, the sometimes reluctant hero solves problems that fortunately (or unfortunately as the case may be) come his way - usually one per story! I started reading Dean's challenge stories awhile back and enjoy most of what I find on his site. Each story is free until the next one is posted and then it becomes available for 99 cents at sites like Amazon, Smashwords, etc.

This past week I also read 'The Wages of the Moment,' a Jukebox Story, which is another series of short stories by Dean. This one features a time travel machine that happens to be a...jukebox. Admittedly lighter fare, I appreciate the fact that Dean doesn't take himself too seriously in writing these pieces. He also provides a little blog entry on how each story in this self-challenge came about, how long it took to write, and anything else that seems pertinent to the creative process. I don't think he'll reach his goal of 100 new stories for 2011 (due to some life interruptions), but what he's done so far has been inspirational - and provided some reading pleasure during my recent holiday travels.

Three more, briefly:

'The Woman Who Was Afraid of Lightning' by Jeff Ambrose is a quirky, slightly horrific piece that was pretty well written, had me hooked, but didn't quite satisfy my curiosity as to the supernatural occurrence that frightened the woman. But maybe that was the Lovecraftian influence, and if so, then it met its own expectations fairly well.

'The Peacock's Tower' by David Barron is definitely an odd bit of a steampunk/fantasy mash-up that wasn't particularly my cup of coffee. It's free on Smashwords, so go decide for yourself.

'A Pleasure to Burn' by David Bain is a reflective, somewhat horrific ghost story. Sort of a ghost story. The protagonist is definitely haunted by his past. Pretty good yarn.

What have you been reading?
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